First Lady

Michelle Obama’s Top 10 Rules to Live By

In her new book “What Would Michelle Do?,” author Allison Samuels reveals the First Lady’s formula for success.

No matter what anyone thinks about the performance of her husband as President of the United States, Michelle Obama has seen her popularity continue to soar. Even in the harsh election wars of 2012, the First Lady has managed to remain above the fray as she actively campaigns for her husband’s second term.

In writing my new book “What Would Michelle Do: A Modern Day Guide to Living With Substance and Style?’’, I wanted to give readers insight into the philosophies, character and specific choices that have enabled the Chicago native to successfully balance the demanding roles of wife, mother, leader and First Lady.  Here are a few Michelle’s tried-and-true rules for success.

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Put On A Happy Face

Most friends of Michelle Obama say the First Lady goes to great lengths to avoid negative thinking, no matter how bad the situation. It seems Michelle’s parents, Marian and Fraser, taught her early on the beauty and benefit of waking up each morning thankful and appreciative of the life she has. Michelle has continued that practice throughout her life by meditating on the day that lies ahead, with positive thoughts of what those 24-hours will bring. Embracing an attitude of gratitude and appreciation can go a long way toward making every day and a good day.

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Never Stop Learning From Others

Michelle has often drawn inspiration from people who’ve led extraordinary lives, in particular women. She chose role models who spoke to her passions, no matter their background, including the late Civil Rights leader Barbara Jordan and Senator Barbara Boxer. Michelle understood that reading about and understanding the trials and tribulations of successful people in any field would also give her the facts, focus and fuel to master the profession of her choice.

Pete Souza / The White House

Making a List and Checking It Twice

Michelle is the master of creating lists for everything she does in life, according to her friends. Since she isn’t a big a fan of the unknown, the First Lady often plans long-term as well as day-to-day. Her lists keeps her sane, structured and organize in a life that can be overwhelming at times. So channel your inner Michelle by getting a notebook and jotting down big and small things you’d like to accomplish now and in the future. Write down every idea no matter how far-reaching or far-fetched it may be. Keep the list with you and refer to it often.

Pete Souza / The White House

Surprise Yourself and Everyone Else

Most thought that at 5-foot-11-inches, Michelle Obama would follow in her brother Craig’s footsteps and play basketball in high school and college. Michelle had different plans. “I wasn’t going to be typecast that way,’’ she said.  Instead, she satisfied her interest in sports and competition by swimming, running and even by learning to play chess with her father. She delighted in doing the exact opposite of what people thought she would or could do, and she continues to push the limits today by doing push ups with Ellen on daytime television or sack racing through the White House with talk show host Jimmy Kimmel.

Pete Souza / The White House

Woman Up

During her freshman year at Princeton University, Michelle was assigned a roommate whose parents were none too pleased that their daughter would be sharing a room with an African American. The mother of Michelle’s roommate did all she could to have her daughter removed, and succeeded by the time the second semester rolled around. While Michelle said she was unaware at the time of the reasons for the move, many of her friends say it was clearly racially motivated. Yet Michelle never let the ugliness of rejection affect her mood, spirit or focus. Even at age 18, Michelle understood she couldn’t let someone else’s issues derail the plans she had, nor could she allow someone else’s view of her taint the way she saw herself. Years later, Michelle’s roommate and her mother admitted their error in judgment.

Pete Souza / The White House

Friends With Like Minds

The First Lady doesn’t buy into the hype of reality shows that often suggest women can’t be friends.  Since high school, she’s embraced female friends who understood her goals and who could give her the support she needed to achieve. In return, she did the same. Michelle’s inner circle rotates heavily around women from all types of backgrounds and walks of life.  Though their life journeys may differ in some ways, their shared interest in family, education and culture make for a tight bond. The First Lady figured out long ago that good friends are essential in every aspect, and particularly when things don’t look so good. No friend can be your everything, but with any luck, like Michelle, most people will find friends who can give them what they need when they need it.

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Make Changes Where Needed

During her husband’s first campaign for President in 2008, Michelle received considerable criticism for being a little too blunt in her words and a little too conservative in her choice of clothes. She often wore outfits on the campaign trail from her days as a corporate lawyer. As the complaints came in, Michelle took heed and changed her presentation without the slightest sense of resentment.  She stepped out of her grey-and-black business suits and into bright shift dresses similar to the ones Jackie Kennedy wore. Michelle never hesitated to make the changes needed to achieve the end-game, getting her husband in the White House.

Pete Souza / The White House

Follow Your Heart

As a corporate attorney in the 1990’s, Michelle finally could afford some of the finer things in life she’d always wanted but couldn’t get growing up on the south side of Chicago. Still, after a few years, she decided that her career as a lawyer working on contracts and labor disputes wasn’t as fulfilling as she’d like.  After much soul searching, she quit the law firm and entered the world of public service.  She felt strongly that community service would ultimately give her a greater sense of satisfaction, and any pay cut or loss of social status would be worth it. She was right.

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Mind Your Facebook

With social media now dominating every facet of modern life, Michelle makes a point of being cautious and careful wherever she engages the world of modern technology.  The First Lady fully appreciates that she’d be in instant hot water if she tweeted something that doesn’t go over well with the masses.  So to keep things sweet and simple, Michelle tweets messages of support to the troops, as well as messages of support to mothers everywhere. Many would do well to share Michelle’s caution: remember, more than 45% of companies view the Facebook and Twitter accounts of prospective employees, and that percentage will likely grow by leaps and bounds in the coming years. Think before you tweet.

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A Lady and Her Fashion

While Michelle’s tall, slim figure allows her to wear with ease the designs of most couture lines, such as Michael Kors and Neem Khan, she looks equally fabulous donning pieces from The Gap and J. Crew. Her integration of luxury and affordable pieces often surprises long-time fashion insiders.  Michelle’s rule of thumb is to wear clothes you can afford and that make you feel good.  Brand names are nice, but not necessary for achieving a winning look.